Fake money popping up as Christmas nears

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) - Federal investigators say some $3,000 in high-quality fake $100 bills have been spent at some Mobile retailers and Alabama Power Co. since Dec. 1. U.S. Secret Service agent Tom Impastato in Mobile says investigators have no suspects, but he speculates that the counterfeit bills came from an organized crime group outside the port city area.

Impastato described the fakes as high quality, with a simulated watermark, red and blue fibers, color-shifting ink and a polyester thread on the left side of the portrait of Benjamin Franklin.

Impastato says such high-quality counterfeit notes are rare in the Mobile area.

He says he sees maybe one or two a year, but banks spotted the fake bills when the businesses deposited them.

There have been no reports of large amounts of counterfiet bills in the Montgomery area, but it's always a good idea to check your money as you receive it. Look for the watermark, color-shifting ink, microprinting and compare bills to see if they match.

What should you do when you get a suspected fake bill?

The U.S. Department of the Treasury says there are several tips you should follow:

  • Do not put yourself in danger.
  • Do not return the bill to the passer.
  • Delay the passer with some excuse, if possible.
  • Observe the passer's description - and their companions' descriptions - and write down their vehicle license plate numbers if you can.
  • Contact your local police department OR call your local U.S. Secret Service Office. 
  • Write your initials and date in the white border area of the suspected counterfeit note.
  • DO NOT handle the counterfeit note. Place it inside a protective cover, a plastic bag, or envelope to protect it until you place it in the hands of an IDENTIFIED Secret Service Agent.
  • Surrender the note or coin ONLY to a properly identified police officer or a Secret Service Special Agent, or mail it to your nearest U.S. Secret Service field office.
  • You can contact the Montgomery branch of the U.S. Secret Service at 334-223-7601.

    (Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. WSFA 12 News contributed to this report. All Rights Reserved.)